The MARVEN Project: The Portuguese biotechnological database for marine animal venoms and toxins

Marine biotechnology is one of the main pillars of the ‘Blue Growth Strategy’ with which the European Union aims at taking the lead of sustainable and competitive exploitation of marine resources. Indeed, novel marine bioproducts are being described every year, which illustrates the potential of the oceans’ inherent biodiversity as an endless source of high-value compounds. Among these, biological toxins, due to their ability to interact with specific biological pathways, are prized bioproducts that can offer a sustainable alternative to the laborious, risky and costly process of designing synthetic drugs for a wide range of purposes: from ‘eco-friendly’ pesticides and anti-foulants to painkillers, antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. Portugal, who benefits from the unique biodiversity generated by the Atlantic and Mediterranean confluence, is in a prime position to join the frontline of sustainable exploitation of the seas. 

The MARVEN project (January 2020 to December 2021), which is a partnership between several research groups of UCIBIO and IPMA, led by the SeaTox Lab, has been designed to build the foundations for a permanent, dynamic and ever-evolving database of marine animal toxins from the Portuguese coast, being devised from the start as a direct tool to meet the needs of industrialists and other societal stakeholders. The project has been approved for funding by Fundo Azul, being awarded with a total of c.a. 200K EUR.